That was two years ago.
He turned 15 years old today.
His full name is Lenny Bruce Brisco Kaeton Conroy, named for our eldest daughter's two favorite celebrities: The ribald commedian, satirist and social critic, Leonard Alfred Schneider, better known as Lenny Bruce, and the wearily sarcastic Detective Leonard W. "Lennie" Briscoe, played by Jerry Orbach on the long-running television show, "Law and Order".
Our daughter, Jaime, had gotten him as a birthday present, November 7, 2004. Lenny was by her side when she died on December 2nd of that same year.
While each one of our pups holds a special place in our hearts, Lenny is inextricably linked to memories of Jaime. Which gives him special status in the family. The other pups seem to know it and understand.
Actually, so does Lenny.
|Lenny, circa 2006
This last time, about a month ago, he wouldn't eat or drink and slept most of the day and night. We really thought, when we woke up in the morning that he'd be gone.
Not Lenny. Not this time. He was still a bit weak but he made his way over to the kitchen where he slowly but surely ate all of his breakfast and then took a big drink of water.
Twenty minutes later, he was scampering in his own, peculiar, comical way, out of the kitchen and into the living room - a sure sign that he had pooped on the floor in the laundry room, which he considers his own, personal toilet.
Well, sometimes, he goes into the main bathroom and leaves a deposit by the toilet because, you know, like his namesakes, he does have a sense of humor.
We've always said, in hushed terms, that Lenny "takes the short bus to school". Jaime's husband used to call him a "dope", but he knows better than to say that in front of us.
Lenny may have diminished intellectual capaciites, but he's not stupid. Let's just say that what Lenny lacks in intelligence he makes up for in the sweetest disposition of any dog I've ever met.
When Ms. CoCo Chanel, the Upper East Side Havanese, was alive, Lenny and she provided us endless hours of entertainment - what we called "Dog TV".
The rectory in Chatham had a full basement, which was where we watched television in the evening. At some point, Ms. CoCo would feel called to patrol the house - going upstairs to the back door in the kitchen, upstairs to the bedrooms, then back down to check the front door in the living room before one more check at the back door and down to the family room where her 'pack' was safe and sound.
There was no doubt that she was the Alpha Dog - of the whole family.
|Ms. CoCo Chanel 2006
She would commence to barking a very alarming bark. You could almost hear her saying, "Lenny! Listen! Burglers! I think there are burglers at the back door. Careful, they may be rapists, too. Better come with me and check this out."
And, Blessed Lenny would jump up and off Ms. Conroy's lap, barking all the way up the stairs and at the back door. Seconds later, Ms. CoCo would strut down the stairs, jump up in Ms. Conroy's lap, and settle in for the evening.
Meanwhile, Lenny is upstairs, barking at the kitchen door.
What else could we do but giggle, and then one of us (me) would head upstairs to assure Lenny that all was well and he could returrn.
Dog-TV. That's what we called it. It was their own brand of entertainment, even if that was not its intention.
Well, Ms. CoCo developed a brain tumor and has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Now we have another Havanese, Ms. Sadie Gene Waggy-Tail and a Poodle, Jack Russell mix, Mr. Theo Wonder Dog, who is now the Alpha Dog of the pack.
It's pretty amazing how bonded these three pups are, how obvious is their genuine love for each other, and how they tend and care of one another, especially the Old Man, Mr. Lenny.
We've been trying to prepare ourselves for his eventual journey over the Rainbow Bridge but it has become an exercise in futility. My personal prayer was that he would make it to celebrate his 15th birthday, and my prayer has been properly answered.
Not that it really matters to Lenny. He seems as oblivious to the significance of the day as he does to everything else in his life at this point.
Oh, he sometimes skips a meal, he often sleeps late, and, even though he wears a "pee-pee pad" and owns a collection of decorative bands to hold it in place, he has recently taken to standing on Sadie's "Just-In-Case" wee-wee pad in the kitchen where he unceremoniously pees in his pants.
He's also developed a new habit of barking when he wants something.
BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK!
It may mean that he wants to be picked up. It may mean that although he thought he really didn't want breakfast, he'd like it now, please. Yes, at 2:30 PM. Yes, even though he knows he'll eat again at 5:30 (and, he will).
So, we pick him up and bring him into the kitchen and put a dish of food in front of Prince Leonard. He'll look at it and then, he'll bark for, oh, sometimes a full minute before he finally huffs and then sneezes and then begins to chow down.
We have absolutely no idea why he does that, but he does.
We just call it Dog TV for Senior Pups.
|Lenny at 15
We have an agreement with the funeral director that, when the priest is looking the other way, he will slip in the cremains of our beloved dogs, including Bogart, our beloved Boxer, who died in 2006 and whose cremains grace our living room in a lovely walnut box.
The funeral director knows that the first priority is for Boggie and Lenny to be interred with us. If there isn't enough room in the niche, the others can have their ashes spread around near our grave sites.
Yes, that's how important these blessed creatures of God are in our lives.
So, it's happy birthday, Mr. Lenny Bruce Brisco, Prince Lenoard of Quite-A-Lot of the Canine Realm of all that is Sweet and Mild-Mannered, if Not Just a Bit Slower Than The Rest.
We are grateful for the 15 years of love and life you have given us and we will be gratefull to take whatever more you can provide.
You still look like you've got a few good years left in you, but you know, like the rest of life, you never really know.
We just love you. That's all. Always have. Always will.
And, come to think of it, isn't that all any one of us really needs?